When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer Historical Context

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Romanticism and Transcendentalism

European romanticism began in the late eighteenth century as a rejection of the Enlightenment-era's preoccupation with reason and rationality. Due in large part to the influence of the American philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson, romanticism spread to the United States in the nineteenth century and became an important influence over many mid-nineteenth-century American writers such as Edgar Allen Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Whitman. The type of romanticism practiced by these and other writers varied widely, but it was characterized by a visionary and emotional style that stressed intuition and feeling as the primary sources of truth and meaning. From Poe's haunting ghost stories to Whitman's poetic vision of the self as the universe, writings with a romantic influence tended to explore the various aspects of the creative spirit.

Emerson's philosophy, which became associated with the system of thought known as transcendentalism, was extremely influential over Whitman...

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This section contains 744 words
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Poetry for Students
When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer from Poetry for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.